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Robert Irwin becomes latest target in scam that's fleeced $8 million from Aussies

The image isn't real and it's trying to convince people to give away their hard-earned cash.

Robert Irwin has become the latest celebrity to be used by scammers trying to rob people of their money. AI-generated images of people like David Koch, Andrew Forrest and even Elon Musk are being posted on social media and the scam fleeced more than $8 million from Aussies in 2023 alone.

The youngest member of Steve and Terri Irwin's family has now been caught up in the operation, as fake photos of him being "arrested" have popped up online. An image of him being led away by police is placed underneath a banner of the Sydney Morning Herald and a caption states, "Is this the end of his career?"

But it's not real and Irwin hasn't been arrested.

Fake image of Robert Irwin getting arrested
This AI-generated image of Robert Irwin is trying to con people out of hundreds of dollars.

Have you been a victim of a scam like this? Email stew.perrie@yahooinc.com

There's a link attached to the AI-generated photo of the 20-year-old wildlife warrior and it takes people to a fake news article claiming he's being sued by a bank over claims he made about a trading platform called Trade iPlex 100.

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In the fictitious story, Irwin said he could make people rich with cryptocurrency investments and all he needed was $375 from keen Aussies.

People all across the country have been duped by these deepfakes and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has warned everyone to be hyper-vigilant when they're scrolling social media.

“We are urging Australians to take their time and do their research before taking up an investment opportunity – particularly those seen on social media,” ACCC deputy chair Catriona Lowe said.

“Scammers are creating fake news articles and deepfake videos to convince people that celebrities and well-known public figures are making huge sums of money using online investment trading platforms, when in fact it is a scam.

“These fake videos and news articles circulating on social media and video sharing platforms, often claim that the online trading platform uses artificial intelligence or other emerging technologies such as quantum computing to generate high returns for investors, but it is not true."

One man lost $80,000 to the scam after seeing a deepfake video of Elon Musk.

He clicked the link, registered his details and was given an online dashboard that claimed to show how his investment was tracking. But when he tried to withdraw his money, he was locked out of his account and lost everything.

Anna got sucked into this investment scam after seeing an online ad on Facebook in 2018.

The fake celebrity endorsement scam used images of previous TV presenters on the show Shark Tank and claimed investors could make huge amounts of money with just a $250 deposit.

“At the time I thought, ‘That sounds quite good’ and I put the money in. It was me being quite stupid in retrospect to think I could make money just like that,” she recalled to Yahoo Finance.

From the moment Anna gave her money and details, she said she was bombarded with phone calls day and night.

“This person hounded me for, I don’t know how many days, and I kept saying, ‘Stop ringing me, I’m going to hang up on you next time you ring’,” she said.

But one day, very early in the morning, she and her husband realised they'd been scammed.

“He said, ‘They’ve taken all the money and they’ve just disappeared’. I said, ‘How much?’. He said, ‘$40,000’,” Anna told Yahoo Finance.

“And I went, ‘You’ve got to be bloody kidding me’.”

Scamwatch had more than 400 reports last year for this type of investment scam.

The most prolific online investment trading platform scam appears under the brand ‘Quantum AI’. Others include ‘Immediate Edge’, ‘Immediate Connect’, ‘Immediate X3’, and ‘Quantum Trade Wave’.

  • Scammers use social media advertisements, deepfake videos on video-sharing platforms and fake online news articles about celebrities and well-known public figures to attract the attention of unsuspecting people

  • They will usually include a link to a scam website and people are encouraged to input their personal information

  • Scammers will start small and ask for an investment of $250, according to the ACCC, and then victims will be asked to download a third-party trading platform, which will allow them to access their online dashboard where they can see their investments

  • Once victims are shown how well their investments are doing, scammers try to convince them to invest more to get a bigger return. The scammers might even allow victims to make a small withdrawal to show the platform is legitimate

  • But when the victim tries to withdraw all their funds, they'll either be locked out completely or asked to pay withdrawal fees

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Aussies lost $2.7 billion to scams last year, with 601,000 cons reported to authorities, according to a new report from the Australian Anti Scam Centre.

That's down from a record $3.1 billion the year previous, however, the number of scams reported went up by 18.5 per cent. Over 65s were the hardest hit and only group to take a higher loss in the last year.

Investment scams are the most prolific, with $1.3 billion lost, followed by remote access scams ($256m) and romance scams ($201.1m).

Scamwatch warns to beware of the following scenarios:

  • It’s an amazing opportunity to make or save money

  • Someone you haven’t met needs your help - and money

  • The message contains links or attachments

  • You feel pressured to act quickly

  • They ask you to pay in an unusual or specific way

  • They ask you to set up new accounts or Pay ID

Contact your bank and report the scam. Ask them to stop transactions and stop sending any money.

Report the scam to Scamwatch here and make an official complaint to police here.

Watch out for follow up scams, particularly ones promising they can get your money back. Scamwatch warned one in three victims of a scam are scammed more than once.

Lastly, get support for yourself. You can talk to a financial counsellor or reach out to BeyondBlue on 1300 22 4636 or here for an online chat or Lifeline for crisis support online here on 13 11 14.

You can also contact IDCARE to “reduce the harm they experience from the compromise and misuse of their identity information by providing effective response and mitigation”.